Gary Cohn says Trump trade adviser the only economist in world who believes in tariffs

Gary Cohn says Trump trade adviser the only economist in world who believes in tariffs
© Kevin Mazur

President TrumpDonald John TrumpA better VA, with mental health services, is essential for America's veterans Pelosi, Nadler tangle on impeachment, contempt vote Trump arrives in Japan to kick off 4-day state visit MORE's former economic adviser Gary CohnGary David CohnTrump officials slow-walk president's order to cut off Central American aid: report John Kelly had to break up argument between US trade officials: report The Hill's Morning Report — Dem ire at Barr intensifies MORE took aim at Trump's trade adviser Peter Navarro on Wednesday by referring to Navarro as the only Ph.D-holding economist in the world who believes in the effectiveness of tariffs.

In an interview with the "Freakonomics" podcast, Cohn remarked that "99.99999" percent of top economists agreed with his assertion that "tariffs don't work."

"If anything, they hurt the economy because if you're a typical American worker, you have a finite amount of income to spend," he continued.

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"Now, every Ph.D. economist that I've ever come across would agree — I would say, probably 99.5 percent — with what you just said," responded the host, Stephen Dubner.

"But the one that doesn't, is in the White House, which is Peter Navarro, is that right?" Dubner added.

"There's only one in the world. That we know of," Cohn responded.

Cohn went on to lament his inability to convince Trump not to implement tariffs on countries such as China as well as top U.S. allies such as Canada, Mexico and the European Union.

"I was losing the war on tariffs every day with the president. I knew I wasn't convincing him I was right. I was not going to take a 74-year-old man who's believed something since he was 30 and convince him that I was right. Believe me, I tried. It — don't think I didn't try," Cohn said.

Cohn left the National Economic Council last year after clashing with the president on issues of trade as well as Trump's response to riots in Charlottesville, Va., which were started by white nationalists and left one person dead.

He has since told reporters he has felt "freer" and "happier" since leaving the White House, while maintaining his opposition to the president's tariff policies.

“No one wins in a trade war,” Cohn said last year. “What we do need in America, and I think what everyone does believe in … is free, fair, open and reciprocal.”

“In a perfect world, we would have no tariffs,” he added.